2015 Dog Flu Outbreak: What You Need to Know

There is a new strain of canine influenza spreading throughout parts of the Midwest. Veterinarians in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin have reported over 1,300 cases of

the new strain. Experts at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine have determined that the new strain, known as H3N2, likely originated from the live bird markets in Asia.  The strain has been circulating throughout Asia since 2002 but this is the first time it has been reported in the U.S.

Thus far, the virus has only been reported in the Midwest. However, the highly-contagious nature of dog influenza in general means that pet parents everywhere should be on alert and take precautions. Here is what you need to know:

What are the symptoms?

  • Persistent coughing
  • High fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

With regard to symptoms, it is important to note that some dogs may not show any symptoms at all even though they are infected. Some dogs may even act as a carrier of the virus without ever becoming affected.

How is it transmitted?

Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease that is primarily spread through nose-to-nose contact with other dogs. It can also be spread by hitching a ride on your clothes and hands.

Experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University have been studying the new strain of canine flu in hopes of preventing a nationwide outbreak. Their research has determined that:

  • The virus has an incubation period of about 1-3 days
  • An infected animal can be contagious for up to 14 days
  • Symptoms last about 5-7 days, but the cough can persist for several weeks.

Can dog flu be transmitted to humans?

No. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no evidence of transmissions of dog flu from dogs to people. However, the virus can be transmitted to cats, ferrets, and guinea pigs (older strains did not effect cats).

How to prevent your dog from getting sick?

Since the flu is primarily spread through contact with other dogs, its best to keep your dog on a leash and avoid densely populated dog areas.  Be sure to wash your hands and clothes after coming in contact with a dog. The virus can live on our hands and clothes making us inadvertent carriers.

It is unknown whether the vaccine for the previous strain of dog flu will protect against the new strain. However, a few pharmaceutical companies have already started working on a vaccine.

If you notice any symptoms please call your vet or an emergency care hospital before taking any further action. They may have suggestions for managing you case at home, which could help prevent the disease from spreading further. For more information, please visit:

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